Two extremely witty and gifted concert pianists are currently charming audiences in the tremendously entertaining Rhapsody at Theatre on the Bay. Internationally acclaimed performers, Steven Worbey and Kevin Farrell, are blessed with both the gift of the gab and nimble fingers, the combination of which elevates their fun ‘four hands, one piano’ Rhapsody to an exciting, classical music act with all of the skill and none of the pretense.
Billed as a ‘barnstorming blend of sparky comedy and utterly sensational piano playing’, I was not completely sure what to expect when I took my theatre seat for the Rhapsody experience. What I got was a theatrical treat that left me mesmerised by Worbey and Farrell’s dazzling performance as they celebrate the piano in all its facets —from television-theme and movie-score muse, to classical full-orchestra-like sensation.
Having started out as Katzenjammer in 2003 and later (for international touring purposes and possibly copyright and German humour related reasons) simply branding themselves as Worbey & Farrell, the duo that started off together as students at the Royal College of Music, enthusiastically tackle much-loved classics and modern tunes with their own fresh arrangements. Cheerfully describing their professional career as ‘the product of alcohol’, you’re never left in doubt that the piano means everything to them, as it allows them to take you anywhere… and they really mean it: They’ll escape with you in the Tardis, go on an adventure with Superman and even make a stop-over in Jurassic Park.
Worbey and Farrell showcase their expertise with enough merriment to keep audiences amused without falling into the cheap-laughs, one-note comedy trap. In fact, Rhapsody is not a comedy show at all. Yes, Worbey and Farrell have a great sense of humour, but it’s their love for the piano —the true star of the show— that catapults these keen musicians out of the realm of mirthful jokers and turns Rhapsody into a unique theatre experience.
The beautifully understated Rhapsody is more than simply a show, it’s an elegant and electric journey. As Worbey and Farrell eagerly tell and show you, they know their music backwards and play it forwards. It’s utterly entrancing to see the fingers of these maestros dance over the grand piano keys in perfect harmony to bring to life an evolution of rhapsodies as per the style of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Queen. There’s even a Straus mash-up, a bit of a Boogie Woogie and a nod to a cellular ear-worm, all performed with philharmonic flair. Pure magic!
This is Worbey and Farrell’s first visit to South Africa, but hopefully not their last. If you're a keen music fan with an appreciation for the versatility of the piano, the merry delight that is Worbey and Farrell’s vivacious Rhapsody at Theatre on the Bay will make for a jolly great night out. The show runs until 19 October 2019, with tickets available online through Computicket.